Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

March 3, 2014

The Path Towards Thriving | On Choosing The Front Row


Oh for the love of Pinterest.

I saw this image the other day. Seriously, it’s awesome and such a great reminder to choose the front row. I want to be those people.

Did I ever tell you the story about the time Chris and I and his parents drove from Oregon to California to pick up a dog for my parents (Wyatt for those of you who’ve been around a long time)? This was before the kids were born – likely sometime around 2000.

On that trip we ended up at Six Flags outside SanFrancisco. Chris and his Dad wanted to go on this big giant roller coaster – one of those ones where you are strapped in over your shoulders, your feet dangle and you go upside down multiple times. Yep. I was hesitant but moderately interested. Into the line we went.

I had to look it up to see what it was called: Medusa.

We waited an hour for this ride.

During our wait I could feel myself becoming increasingly panicked about the situation in front of me. But I stayed in line. I don’t remember now if I stayed in line because I wanted to or because they were talking me into it or because I felt like I had to because I’d waited so long already.

When it was our turn the three of us climbed into position on the ride and as the shoulder straps came down I instantly knew there was no way in hell I was going on this ride.

I yelled, “Excuse me! I need to get off.”

My father-in-law thought I was kidding until he saw my face. Chris could see it too.

They released me from the shoulder strap and I walked over towards the exit. The people in line behind us yelled “boooooo” and made fun of me. I didn’t care one little bit – not one bit – I was so happy to not be going on that ride. It was the right choice for me at that moment in time.

LESSON | There’s nothing wrong with getting out of line.

Since then I’ve been on more rides and have come to love the thrill. For example, the Tower of Terror at Disneyland. I love that ride. It scares me every single time but I know I’ll be okay. My first time riding it was with Katie and as they were strapping us in and closing the door (!!!) I looked over at her and said, “I don’t think I can do this.”

But I did.

And I freakin loved it.

And I’ve been on it close to 10 more times since that first time.

LESSON | We can do things we think we can’t.

These days I do hard things I think I can’t do more regularly. It’s something I have to practice and choose and choose again. I’m getting better at recognizing it earlier – seeing it for what it is – an opportunity to be brave, to grow, to stretch myself, to leap. I’m lucky that I have a friend like Katie who encourages me to keep moving forward even when she can see and hear my fear and apprehension.

Here’s the deal: I’ve been the people in the front row and I’ve been the people in the third row. I’m a crazy mixture of both those people and one or the other wins out at certain times based on circumstance, fear, confidence, etc. And that’s okay.

To me thriving is actively engaging in those choices. Some days I’ll step out of that line and other days I’ll face those fears head on because I can do hard things.


  • 1.
    Kim L. said…

    Great words to read this morning!!!

  • 2.
    Ainslie H said…

    What a great reminder for us all to push ourselves a bit!

  • 3.
    Paula said…

    Tears in my eyes, great post Ali.

  • 4.

    Got to love Pinterest :)
    Great post Ali, thanks for sharing.

  • 5.

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you ! It’s OK to push and OK to pull back. I thought riding a ferris wheel would be fun (I was in jr high)until we got to the top and just swung there while others got on…instant panic… My Dad yelled at the guy to let us off, and they did… I was so glad he stood up for me and didn’t make me tough it out (he confessed he didn’t much like it either) SO… I don’t do heights at amusement parks…I’m the only one NOT going on the rickety old wooden coaster at FuntownSplash town but I’m totally fine with that… “it takes courage to be a chicken” one of my new mottos Have a wonderful week ladies!! xo

    • ….
      Terri said…

      You can get me on most any roller coaster but a ferris wheel. Forget it. I don’t know what it is about them but they scare me to death!!!

  • 6.
    Joan said…

    Awesome Ali. Thank you.

  • 7.
    Sheila said…

    This is absolutely spot on. I find myself talking to the kids about this, especially as they get older. Sometimes we have to try new things, things that make us uncomfortable, in order to figure out what we like and want out of life. More often than not, it’s the fear of not knowing that stops us short. I give them these pep talks as I drag them on a new adventure. You made me realize that I don’t do the same for myself. I need those little pep talks, too, especially when I’m bored (like now) or afraid of the big giant question mark.

  • 8.
    Jenny A said…

    You are awesome. That is all ;)

  • 9.
    Lori said…

    That photo… wow. Thank you for sharing. And your words were very meaningful to me. My OLW for 2014 is “brave” and I have lots to think about after reading your post. So appreciate your candor.

  • 10.
    Debbie S said…

    I REALLY needed to see those words this morning. That was truly inspired! Thank you.

  • 11.
    Emily said…

    You have been given such a gift with words and an open heart to share with others. Thank you for listening to your heart and responding and sharing your gifts with so many strangers and friends. This post touches a tender place for me!

  • 12.
    Laura said…

    We went to Disney in Florida this past year and rode Splash Mountain. Hated, hated, hated that ride. Stuff like that is just not my thing and I’m okay with that. I can still strive to enjoy other parts of life like those ladies in the front row, but sometimes I’ll be the one taking pictures from the sidelines and that’s ok, too.

  • 13.
    Teal said…

    Love this. So much!

  • 14.
    Angie Hall said…

    Oh, Ali! I love this post! Right now in my life, I am having to do some incredibly hard things, and often, I feel like giving up. Not just stepping out of line, but running out of the park altogether.

    I used to live in So. Cal. where I could see Six Flags Magic Mountain from my bedroom window. Now when I think about that home, and that park, I’ll think about your post and about doing hard things…leaning into the discomfort of it all, and hanging on.

  • 15.
    Mary in IL said…

    Yep, I am NOT one to step out of my comfort zone if I don’t have to. I am probably missing out on some things because of that too. I want to say that if I had gotten that far in line I would have just closed my eyes and screamed the entire minute or two that the ride actually took but in reality I would have done exactly the same as you. Thanks for sharing so honestly about yourself Ali!

  • 16.
    michelle t said…

    Thank you for a very timely read. Michelle t

  • 17.
    Beth Quiroz said…

    Ali – have you ever seen the movie “Parenthood?” It came out in 1989 and starred Steve Martin. There is a scene at the end where his extremely elderly grandmother walked in on an argument he was having with his wife and told a story about loving the excitement of roller coasters. Its a great scene – watch it if you have never seen it (you can get it on YouTube).

  • 18.
    Kathleen said…

    Ali, I have been a tutor trainer for Literacy Volunteers for several years. I train people how to teach English one-on-one to a non-English speaking adult. I always begin the class with a quote from Neale Donald Walsh: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Then I ask them to take this mental test about trying new things: If all you feel about this new experience is fear, then maybe it’s not for you. If you are feeling a mixture of fear and excitement, then let’s get started. You can’t grow as a person without some risk involved, but total fear can also guide us away from things where the risk is too high. You’re absolutely right…sometimes it’s the front row…sometimes it’s the third. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • 19.
    Dana Nichols said…

    I do love all your posts, but seriously, this one is the best! Maybe because I needed it right now. But, whatever the reason, THANK YOU. Really, thank you!

  • 20.
    Kamie said…

    I don’t usually respond to your posts but your blog has been a daily ritual of mine for years now!)

    I just want to take the time to say “thank you” for your post today! I needed it…right now!

    I hope you have a great Monday!

  • 21.
    Kim said…

    ME too! Totally okay to be a mix of both rows. Knowing when to say when & when to cut loose is a good thing. Great Post! Thank you!

  • 22.

    Great post. It is totally OK to choose the front row sometimes and pull back at other times. So often I think the trick is in discerning which is which. Thanks, Ali.

  • 23.
    Cathy L. said…

    I have to admit, my heart started racing just READING that you MIGHT get on a really scary roller coaster! I remember a few years ago,we were at Silverwood. There was a roller coaster that I was really tempted to ride (I am terrified every time I ride Space Mountain at Disneyland). I watched it several times and realized it couldn’t be that bad, the ride only lasted a couple of minutes for crying out loud! But, I just couldn’t summon up the courage to ride it. I don’t know if I will ever be able to…I hope so.

  • 24.
    julie said…

    I’m glad I read your post because I laughed when I saw the ladies and their skirts flying. and I thought I love the smile and excitement,enjoyment as an adult. I thought you were going to saying sometimes you have to let go and have fun even tho you may be older (obviously what I am working on). I’m finding I’m having trouble aging….so that’s what I took from the picture.

    But your point of view is always interesting and thoughtful and for that I am grateful that I read it today.


  • 25.
    alexandra said…

    so thankful to read this. thank you.
    P.S. go Ali go

  • 26.
    Bonnie Jean said…

    Sometimes the brave thing is to step off the ride or get out of the line. Sometimes it is to do what you fear. As you go, I think you will learn what is right for you in order for you to thrive. I am learning much from your journey and am so appreciative that you share the real you so vulnerably. Please keep on showing us how to thrive… and that everyone’s journey is unique. For me, I used to love roller coasters… after a major head injury… years later I found out they do not make me “thrive”. I went on the Enterprise at Great Adventure in NJ and they had to carry me off because I blacked out and could not walk. The doctors said it is because of my head injury and the area of my brain that was affected. This is not meant to discourage you or anyone else not to be brave and get on the first row of anything. Just to learn your own true limits… not fears or anything negative… just the fact that I stated at the beginning. Thriving as I am beginning to stumble onto what it is… is just being you… with your limits and your loves and without fears… the kind that keep you down. Finding the things that make you happy … that may you thrive and grow and fully live. And I love how you fully live before us all. Thank you so much for your honesty.

  • 27.
    Jenni Hufford said…

    love reading these thoughts ali!! thank you!

  • 28.
    Roberta said…

    Ali, this is an absolutely awesome post. It says so very much and REALLY touched me! It is important for us to remember that we do not always have to push ourselves to s t r e t c h sometimes it is ok and actually healthier to play it safe +/or go against the current. You have accomplished so very much it really helps to hear it from you.
    And yes, I too choose the front row..but not necessarily every single day.
    thank you for sharing this.

  • 29.

    I am THAT person too! Love your words on this!

  • 30.
    Jessica said…


  • 31.
    Alicia said…

    Awesome post!

  • 32.
    Nancy said…

    I love that picture and I love this post! I completely identify with the ladies in the third row and I’m currently working to let myself be comfortable with that. I’m an introvert. I love spending time alone, and that’s ok. Society can sometimes make you feel like you need to live life in the front row, and that’s ok sometimes, but the real me is in the third row and that’s ok too. Thanks Ali – great post.

  • 33.
    Grace said…

    We should never have to feel bad if we are different from everyone else, if we are being our real selves. I hate heights and I will not let anyone belittle me when I do not choose to do things involving heights!

  • 34.
    Dawaila said…

    I have a daughter that is 15 a pretty daring and outgoing girl despite the fact that I am not. We were just at Disney and she wanted to go on Tower of Terror…I did not! She said Mom we wont go if you don’t want to, in that moment I had to decide if I was going to hold her back. I never want to be that Mom that is so scared that I stop my daughter from doing anything, needless to say we went YUK but then we went again! Am trying to be in the front row :)

  • 35.
    kelly libby said…

    Thanks, Ali!! I’m going through a very long term relationship break up AND I’m ending my job of 3 years. Sucks. Hurts. There’s no way around that. But, I’m trying to be (more) brave and realize that I am okay to be myself. It’s okay to say, “no. I don’t want to do that” just because everybody else is doing something. I grew up being brave and a leader but when I’m going through an emotionally challenging stint, I become weak and want to just hibernate.

    you’re blessed to have a good friend like Katie. I too need to remember that i can reach out and be vulnerable with a few of my good friends. They know me and will encourage me when I’m feeling my least brave.

    Your words really touched me today…

  • 36.

    This is really lovely. What a great reminder that we don’t always have to be uncomfortable in order to thrive. But a little bit of uncomfortableness isn’t always a bad thing!

  • 37.
    Pamela said…

    On getting out of line: I’ve been there! I love a good thrill ride, but have a healthy fear of heights. When we were kids, my cousin dragged me into the line for a really steep, tall water slide at the local theme park (no spirals or twists – just goes straight down). We grabbed our boards and spent an hour creeping up the staircase. When we finally reached the top of the slide nearly an hour later, I took one look down and told my cousin I’d meet her at the bottom – and nearly galloped back down the stairs. Since then, I’ve overcome a few bigger challenges. ; )

  • 38.
    Michelle o said…

    Inspiring as always!!! Awesome insight

  • 39.
    Sharyn said…

    Thanks Ali – I have been a third row kinda person this week, not necessarily by choice, but it is not sitting well with me. I know I want that front row. Just need to get there.

  • 40.
    Nita K. said…

    Thanks for this.

  • 41.
    Brooke said…

    I read this post last night before I went to bed. It’s been a tough couple of days. Thank you!

  • 42.
    Kathleen M Smith said…

    Love that photo! Thanks for sharing. I always make a point of being in the front row as long as it doesn’t leave the ground!

  • 43.
    Lisa W. said…

    Wow…thank you! I’m with Angie, lately I want to run out of the park. BUT somedays I think NO, not gonna get me down, keep plowing through! I know now its ok…it’s ok to want to run, most importanly you gotta get back in line!

    • ….
      Sue M said…

      You were right on. Her message is worth remembering!

  • 44.
    Leslie S. said…

    Well said Ali! I love this post.

  • 45.
    J3SS1C4 said…

    I saw this quote on Facebook and loved it as well! Thank you for sharing this… Such an awesome reminder to push through and be brave :)

    Oh, and I’m like you… Some days I can push through, some days I can’t… This is especially true of my fear of heights. I’ve sky dived, abseiled, gone on the Slingshot in Bali, parasailed, climbed the Harbour Bridge, and other days I can’t even stand near the edge of a lookout! :)

  • 46.
    Kristie S. said…


  • 47.
    christi said…

    when a friend posted this on FB a few months ago I posted “I’m happy in the 2nd row, enjoying the ride but not flashing the world or losing my hat”

    And now that I look at the photo again, how do we know that once the ladies in the 3rd row start to go up the incline they won’t have just as much fun?

    • ….
      Ali said…

      We don’t. Which is part of my point – sometimes we are in the front row and sometimes we are in the middle and sometimes in the back and they are all perfectly acceptable. I know for me though it’s much easier to be in the backseat and some of us need a push (externally or internally) to make the choice to sit in the front row sometimes. Seasons of life I think :) .

  • 48.
    3girls1apple said…

    First row all day every day. But sometimes is definitely ok to seat one down. Great post!!!

  • 49.
    Barbara said…

    I learned early on that the A students sit in the front row. Through out school and college, I was happy with this because I always wanted A’s. Once I got a job in a major corporation, the introverted side of me came out. I was out of my element because I grew up on a farm and near a small town. The largest city in my state wasn’t even half the size of this big City. It took me years to realize that I needed to stop hiding in the back row. I slowly worked my way back up to the front row. I don’t always sit in the front row after all it is embarrassing if you are late to a meeting (due to other important work of course) :-) . I am more confident and I realize that I have a skill not too many people do as well as I do. I know my limitations but I’m happy with who I am and I really don’t care what others say or think.

  • 50.
    Allison said…

    Tower of Terror is the BEST ride! Love this post.

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